Preparing College Athletes for Back to School

Source: Getty images

Source: Getty images

If you are an athlete and getting ready to head off to or back to college, this is an important time to calibrate your nutrition and plan and establish a game plan for when you are at school. Sometimes fueling your body can feel like a full-time job but the effort and diligence you put in will certainly yield results. Check out these tips two steps our founder and sports dietitian, Molly Morgan recommends that you take before heading to campus:

 

1. Research what foods and beverages will be available and/or provided to you at school 

Some athletic programs will have specific products like tart cherry juice, protein bars, bananas, etc. that will be available at the gym. Use these items to supplement your eating routine! 

Review menus for dining halls that will be accessible and learn what is offered and what is open when. This will help you for step 2!

Find out where the nearest grocery store is and a way to get there routinely to stock up on items that will keep you fueled while studying, between classes, etc. Check out this Snack Ideas handout for nutrient-rich snack ideas. 

2. Make a Food Game Plan

Once you have done some research you can now craft together your food game plan! Taking time to think this through will help your plan become a reality because fueling your body doesn't just happen by accident. Be sure to consider your class, practice, and game schedule when crafting your plan out as some days will likely be more hectic than others. 

If you are living on your own learn or have access to a kitchen, this summer, learn to prepare some simple meals and snacks that can become part of your eating routine. For example, teach yourself how to make these Maple Sea Salt Energy Bites which could be an on the go breakfast or a great snack.

Plan for at least 3 meals and 2 - 3 snacks to meet your energy needs!

Q & A with Chris Downey

This Q & A features in the insight of Chris Downey, the Director of Sports Medicine at Binghamton University. 

Chris Downey, MS, ATC Director of Sports Medicine at Binghamton University     Downey began his tenure at Binghamton on August 3, 2015 and oversees BU’s entire athletic training program, which includes eight full-time staff members and more than a dozen student-trainers.

Chris Downey, MS, ATC
Director of Sports Medicine at Binghamton University  

Downey began his tenure at Binghamton on August 3, 2015 and oversees BU’s entire athletic training program, which includes eight full-time staff members and more than a dozen student-trainers.

Q: In your work with college athletes, what is one nutrition mistake you see commonly made? And one nutrition strength you see commonly among athletes?

Mistakes: Unfortunately, I see many nutrition mistakes with college student-athletes (poor hydration, not enough calories consumed, improper protein intake, etc.).

In my opinion, there is two reasons for this: 1. Student-athletes truly are not familiar with what they should be consuming on a daily basis and before/after physical activity. 2. They have very demanding schedules that makes it difficult for them to schedule proper fueling. This is why many institutions have developed nutrition training tables and refueling stations.

Strengths - I think student-athletes are eager/receptive to learn about how proper nutrition habits can benefit them and once they are instructed properly they will make appropriate changes.

Q: Have you observed that well-fueled athletes meet their training goals or recover quicker? 

Absolutely. It is obvious to me when student-athletes are well-fueled versus not. Their training goals, recovery, and rehabilitation is always improved when fueled properly. 

What are the top areas related to nutrition that you think athletes need to focus on? 
In a general sense, I would like student-athletes to focus on hydration and caloric intake (not empty calories). 

What is a nutrition tip you can share with coaches or trainers should routinely reminder or talk to their players about?
My biggest tip is to create resources for your student-athletes; such as, a registered dietitian or nutritionist they can meet with, water bottles for them to hydrate with, and refueling stations. It is a lot more likely for your student-athletes to make proper nutrition choices if they have resources available for them to utilize.